Friday 15 May 2015

Splatterhouse (Turbografx-16 / PC Engine review)

Developer: Namco Splatter Team
Publisher: Namco
Released: 1990

Splatterhouse is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that originally appeared in the Arcade two years earlier.

There are seven levels and you play the role of Rick who must escape the West Mansion and rescue his girlfriend. You have standard punches and kicks but you can also do a special slide attack. There are weapons you can pick up including 2x4's, spears, cleavers and shotguns and they help for killing creatures much quicker. The settings are dark and moody and each level looks gruesome with dead bodies hanging from ropes and deformed babies crawling around. There are genuinely scary moments including the scene in Stage IV where enemies suddenly smash through mirrors and begin attacking you! Splatterhouse is a difficult game partly due to Rick's large sprite and the 'sticky' controls; the latter is more apparent if you have a weapon as it takes a few moments to wind up and attack leaving you temporarily vulnerable. Each section of a level is short though and if you die you're taken back to the last checkpoint rather than the beginning. There's also five continues to encourage you to keep progressing. Although the game is short there are points where you have multiple paths to choose from which helps with replayability. One minor complaint is that there's nothing in the game itself that really explains the story and even the ending doesn't come to a satisfying conclusion. The graphics feature some good animation especially when Rick swings the 2x4 as it looks like he's hitting a home run! The music is creepy and the dissonant, minimalistic tracks help to draw you in to the atmosphere of each level.

Splatterhouse doesn't last long but once you get used to the controls you'll have a great time progressing through the gory environments and splatting enemies against walls! It's pretty unique for its time and thankfully it has some solid gameplay to back up its distinctive graphical style.

Random trivia: The Turbografx-16 and PC Engine ports had a number of changes including the loss of cut-scenes, different boss attacks and a decreased level of violence and gore.

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